Home > All, Security News > Apple pays out for privacy invasion

Apple pays out for privacy invasion

We in the self-righteous and self-congratulatory West tend think little of personal freedom and privacy rights in the Far East (with obvious exceptions here and there, of course). So it comes as a bit of a shock that a lawyer in South Korea has successfully sued Apple for breaching privacy on his iPhone.

Apple Korea said it had paid one million ($950) to iPhone user Kim Hyung-Suk, complying with a compensation order from a court in the southern city of Changwon.

Kim, a 36-year old lawyer, filed suit against Apple on April 26. He said the smartphone’s location recording infringed on his constitutional rights to privacy and freedom and caused psychological stress.
Apple makes first S. Korea payout over tracking

It’s going to be worth watching this to see whether the issue quietly goes away or balloons. If Kim Hyung-Suk’s privacy was illegally violated, did the same happen to every other South Korean iPhone user? And what about us here in Europe, with our much-vaunted privacy protections?

Mobile phone usage depends on the user telling the supplier where he is so that the conversation/data can be routed via the nearest mast. So some invasion of privacy is a requirement. And we know from German Green politician Malte Spitz’s FOI demand, that can be a staggering amount:

Cellphone companies do not typically divulge how much information they collect, so Mr. Spitz went to court to find out exactly what his cellphone company, Deutsche Telekom, knew about his whereabouts. The results were astounding. In a six-month period — from Aug 31, 2009, to Feb. 28, 2010, Deutsche Telekom had recorded and saved his longitude and latitude coordinates more than 35,000 times.
Slashdot: German Politician Demonstrates Extent of Cellphone Location Tracking (T-Mobile Realizes Hitler’s Wet Dream)

But is this collection implicit (or even explicit in the small print) of any agreement with the service provider, and how long can they keep it? I don’t know. It would take the courts and our EC masters to proclaim on this. But it’s certainly something that needs to be sorted. Although Apple may not be the service provider in this case, it and other phone vendors must surely be reigned back in what data they collect from us. Alternatively, let’s hope that every iPhone user in the world manages to get $1000 dollars from them. That would make them sit up and think.

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